Like most, I receive my daily world news from Facebook, whether it be suggested articles or shared posts from friends.
My newsfeed as a result is often filled with Human Right abuses carried out within Israel predominantly by the IDF (Israeli Defence League) against Palestinians.
What I began to find shocking was the fact that on my newsfeed I would often see viral videos in which Israeli soldiers were clearly harassing Palestinians.
Yet, when it came to mainstream media, there was a serious omission of these or any critiques of any nature against Israel.
When I began to look into this more I saw that this was not a new phenomena. Since the 1980s Israel has dedicated much of its time and money in PR.
This began with the Hasbara Project, after the Sabra and Shatila massacres, where Israel was internationally denounced for killing around 1,200 Palestinians, they aimed to promote pro-Israeli propaganda internationally.
As Elon Pinkas, former foreign policy advisor, once said ‘the PR campaign is a part of winning the conflict, as a result Israel trains all diplomats in the art of PR.
In 2009, one of the most important documents on modern Israel was published, the Frank Luntz report otherwise known as ‘The Israel project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary’, providing the do’s and don’ts for Israeli spokespeople.
The 112 page booklet provides responses often heard on the media today. For example, the study says that Americans agree that Israel ‘has a right to defensible borders’ but one should avoid defining where these borders being and end.
In a sentence in bold type, underlined and with capitalisation, Dr Luntz says that Israeli spokesmen or political leaders must never, ever justify ‘the deliberate slaughter of innocent women and children’.
For me, one of the most troubling developments in recent times was the revelation that Facebook had suspended the accounts of several Palestinian journalists without warning or any explanation.
According to Al Jazeera, four editors from the Shehab News Agency—which has more than 6.3 million likes on Facebook—and three executives from the equally popular Quds News Network reported that they were suddenly unable to access their personal accounts.
Despite Facebook commenting this was simply a mistake, some argue that it is more likely to be a spin-off effect from a recent agreement that Facebook struck with the Israeli government.
Israeli officials declared that they were working with Facebook to remove posts that they deemed to incite violence, Israel’s justice minister said the government had submitted 158 requests to have content removed since June, and the company had granted 95% of the requests.
Removing posts and suspending accounts is reminiscent of authoritarian regimes such as Turkey or Togo’s internet shutdown.
None of this even covers the more subtle Facebook algorithms which highlight and hide certain content.
Facebook has never claimed to be a news source as it does not want to carry that burden but maybe it is a responsibility the company needs to acknowledge with two billion users.
Israel is in the game of changing people’s minds through its constant barrage of spokespeople with rehearsed lines and pre-planned statements.
Media bias does not come as a surprise but it becomes an issue when what is presented as analysis is in reality just veiled advocacy.
Ultimately this is the problem that comes with a historical trauma, opinions become factual truths in the minds of those who read them.